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swimming in your head. i'd like to propose our panelists talk about the flow of the situation right now, especially in syria. the what if scenarios. we'll spend a little bit of time on, and then their recommendations and context and perspective on greater security in the region and what steps might be taken in syria in particular. the people we have on the panel today are close to the street, ear on the ground, and in their constituencies, they are people whose opinions are sought and whose opinions are listened to. i want to introduce a canadian journalist, she's also a member of the serian national council formed in opposition to assad, holds a bachelor's degree, canadian, a poly-sci degree and working on her ph.d. right
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now. lecturing in istanbul, the international center for scholars, a special adviser to the turkish president in the snows. named one of the most 100 powerful arab women last year, appears on u.s. cable news channels quite often and the founder and chairman of the independent think tank beirut institute. safeen, a member of the kurdistan democratic party. he's also a member of the -- was a standing-in member of the iraqi governing council of the authority in 2004. he was exiled to the u.k. and returned to his homeland and is
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playing a very key role in its development in the kurdistan province. let's make it a conversation, more oprah, fewer speeches, and hopefully everybody gets involved shortly. i want to begin by asking all the panelists to take a bird's eye view first. how you see the flow happening in the region generally, in syria in particular, and where do you see some connections happening. afra, would you like to begin? >> hello, everyone. good morning. i'm replacing my colleague from the syria national council. i was slightly surprised he chose me because he knows i'm in the non-violent movement in syria, and i'm doing my ph.d. on the non-violent movement in syria, and so it's quite a privilege to be hearing your perspective and interesting to hear my perspective.
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i'm almost tempted to do the title now of my ph.d. as the successful failure of non-violence in syria because it's -- some of you followed the events, the first six months was non-violence, and that didn't happen by chance or coi understand dense. there was a -- coincidence, but a great deal of planning and conscious bind it; however, syria's been isolated for a long time from the international community, and there was not enough awareness of the effectiveness of non-violent. they felt with the brutality of the regime, they have to engage in what they call self-defense calling for a no-fly zone, and so the latest slogans in the demonstrations in syria started asking for international intervention. it was around this time that the syria national council was formed, whose mandate was to actually bring help to defend the civilians who were protesting. the reasons -- the main reason the syria did not want to back
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up has to do what happened to them in the 80s when the syrian regime brutally recrushedded that rebellion centered in the city of hamas and killed, according to the claims of the regimes, 38,000 people in a 27-day campaign in the months of february in 1982. the people felt if they back off, they would be punished because in the 80s, after 82, the next following years, they punishedded them collectively, about 80,000 forcibly disappeared people whose files are still not closed, and thousands and thousands of prisoners of conscious. the syrians felt they have to continue at any cost. when help doesn't come, the idea of defense formed in the movement itself, and so those soldiers defecting from the army
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started creating small groups to defend, in fact, initially what they called the peacefulness of the revolution, and so they went around buildings because that's where snipers used to shoot peaceful protesters, but as an author said, defense is the first act of war. what happened is that in order to achieve this defense of civilians, the small groups, which increasingly also became joined by civilians who took up arms to defend the towns, families, and suburbs, started, actually, engaging in more proactive approaches, and they started taking check points and searching neighborhoods and towns and villages they started calling "liberated areas," however, when they speeched in liberating the areas, especially as we see now in the north, they could not protect themselves in the air. that regime held air power, and the regime shelled people, including the use of barrel
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bombs which could go through several story buildings all the way to the basement. , of course, the casualty rate was tremendous, and, again, syria found themselves defendless, and at the moment, felt abandoned. however, the recent development, where we tried to bring a more inclusive coalition in the syria opposition is becoming a hopeful point for syria, that the armed struggle, if it goes under civilian leadership, it would lead to better results if there would not be interventions and no-fly zone. it's the real fear because some of them, yesterday, to get to their perspective, those inside syria, activists, and the message they wanted to bring to all of you is that the democracy movement, the prohuman rights movement feel abandoned for the
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last few decades, and all of us have come to this point where in the west there's vulnerable security in the arab world. there's an imploding of civil society. thank you. >> the development last week, what's the best way your contacts in syria say it can be given, first of all, weight, and assurances that might take advantage of the situation? >> well, from people in the opposition and people on the ground, they feel the coalition needs to be given a chance. it's, perhaps at the moment, the strongest viable option to have the arms struggle in syria and the civilian leadership. because it's chosen, the moderate reformer, an engineer by training, but also comes from a long line of islamic followers who expose ideas like feminist
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ideas, and then you have a nonbusiness person, and then, also, the head of the syria business council from a christian background and secular feminists. syria, when they look at the new leadership, feel they represent them, and that they have legitimacy on the ground because they came out of syria, and they are seen as inside opposition. >> thank you. drown into a couple altercations with the regime already. can you give us a sense of how you see the flow in the region? >> let me just refer to what the president of turkey said yesterday when addressed how he sees the situation in syria. he has said that of the countries, syria, and syria, in the sense, syria, may not exist
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anymore. syria used to have since its foundation, following world war i and being an independent state and then the united nations following world war ii is no more. they are in dissent of the magnitude of human tragedies. the population exchanges, and the damage done to the infrastructure of the country. in the material sense, and we are talking about the country of 2 million people, and more than 25 million who have been displaced. only by a week ago, the refugees that were 160 # ,000, lebanon
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more, and jordan even at the same skill of turkey. our refugees, apart from those who are displaced within the country itself, and the regime in damascus cannot add to the control nearly 70% of the countryside of syria, and its urban centers, damascus and other parts, are battlegrounds between the oppositions and the regime so the -- before this started, reach today, march 15, 20 # 11, we could never think
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that we have too much -- march 14, 2011, it's over. the syria -- [inaudible] the question we face in turkey, the region, and all over the world, what we know is that the religion ended, and yet the paradox is religion is in place in damascus so the question is when and how -- what day we will see assad reigning over syria and how it can be achieved, and what kind of a transition we will ever find syria in place to reassemble the conflict. i think in the western world, there is one dimension or one
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aspect of syria that's not very much noticed that is the kurdish aspect of it. syria is not that homogenius country many used to think of. after the parliament development -- after the war in iraq near 2003, quasi independent, representatives with us, the region of government in place and now, roughly making up 10% of the population. the moment the regime collapses, we have come up to the scene, that would be demanding rights as has been in iraq so they will
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be looking even for an -- [inaudible] federal syria or an independent syria which will have vailing upon turkey a country with 50% more than the world, that cur key is supposed to be not reconciled themselves start less than theirs. syria is more than -- [inaudible] faces a lot of uncertainties concerning syria. >> one follow-up question. you mentioned quite rightly there's a kurdish section of the syria population that's remained largely on the side of the armed conflicts. do you foresee a time, you mentioned once the regime clamses, there's demands for
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kurdish atonomy, do you see kurd ish in syria defeat the assad regime militarily? >> they place themselves seemingly neutral because they have not reconciled their differences in the arab segment fearing opposition. the -- they want the arab commitment for the future of syria in terms of kurdish rights, and in our part of the world, the concepts, the atonoy, they are with dismemberment, fragmentation, and partition so they want to see syria, the opposition, itself, the islam's
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component of the regime,ments the syria to continue arab country. some minority rights are quoted to whoever the minority is, but the moment arrived historically, and they put back higher than think think, and so they don't reconcile yet, the syria opposition, but this will mean they are cooperating with the regime or not under takeing efforts for the collapse of the regime, but trying to control, and the areas, they are popular, represents majority of the population, the inhabitants, and therefore accountable for their own self-rule, and so it remains to be seen how the things will
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land because whenever the kurds meant something, turkey's question, and influence upon turkish position vis-a-vis syria, and so it's complicated and complex, but for the snapshot, if you have the kurds do not move as active as their arab combatants in syria in terms of fighting. >> of course, turkey was one of two countries officially recognizing the council from france being the other one. raghida, do you want to respond? >> i want to say thank you for inviting me, again, this year, last year, i was in a new position, and i -- you know, i'm lebanese citizen, american citizen, live in new york, cover
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the united nations, and so that is the way i look at it from the larger region of that international approach, and whatever you want to think of what's going on in the region now, everyone is looking at washington. what will the new president of the united states, what would be the president in the second term do about any of what he promised to do so let's look at the three obama promises. the first promise was in his first term when he said he will find a solution for the palestinian-israeli issue, and, unfortunately, we know what happened over the four years. that has not been that. it's an unfulfilled promise at best. some see it as a failed promise. the second promise the president of the united states had, unprecedented as it is, when he said the united states would never allow iran to be a nuclear power. now, this is unprecedented whether right or wrong, but it's
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something that was done not only during the elections, but a statement made by the president more than once, and i think it was in connection of promises made also to the israeli prime minister. how, will president obama fulfill the promise? wiggle out of it? absolutely implement it whether it's militarily or through containment policy, and what are they doing from my point of view, one of the reasons or a fascinating part about the gaza operation is that, a, they are giving hamas a lead in creating the new dynamics or dictating dynamics in an alliance of the muslim brotherhood leadership's be it in egypt or turkey, and it's probably the move to
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undermind the palestinian authority because he's going to the united nations asking for the status of the states, observer state, but the change of subject, at least by the israelis away from iran and syria, on to gaza, to me, is a very fascinating development. is it temporary or going to be an ongoing -- how long is that change of subject? sometimes leaders and security people know better. they feel they could have contained escalation. maybe that's what they have in mind. is it doable? does it work in this part of the region we live in? the third promise president obama made, again, never made any commitments to syria on syria except on the chemical weapons. now, we understand right now that, you know, there's concern
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there was a suggestion of a need of 70 # ,000 troops in order to secure the chemical facilities in syria in case there's any suspicious movement, be it by, you know, helping, you know, by the jihadists taking over or the regime using these chemical weapons. i mean, this is a big promise as well. what preparations have been made to fulfill that promise? i really don't know. i want somebody to help us with that answer. i think there is, again, always on washington for leadership, and whether the united states want to lead or not, or the leading from behind becomes really a problem for the region and the united states. it can be dragged into the situation. i think the last meeting that took place in cairo regarding syria i think was the first
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meeting after the elections, the american elections, and i think it was an interesting development this because you had a gulf states, and with europeans and with the united states, these are starting to say, all right, think of a strategy to help the addition of syria, and if the lip service is not good enough, they need help in a substantial way. arming is now on the table, de facto whether it's pronounced or not, and it's not a problem, the arabs do that. the saudis will not, the qat it ars, and nobody's talking about american troops on the ground there. this is one most important development and why is it your important? because it is really now in terms of how will it be taken forward with russia and china? will there be confrontation? the question that's going to be asked and needs to be asked is because strategy is needed is to
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go to the russians and say basically, now what do you want? the president is there for four more years, no more elections, what is it that you want? deliver what the russians or not? cold war they want or what is -- what consequences of that? from what i understand the foreign minister of russia was meeting with the gulf ministers, the gcc ministers, i, from what my information is he did not give in. they are standing exactly where they were. this is not -- the strategy is needed. it is not a strategy, and the u.s., no matter how much we try to run away from that situation in syria and israel and iran, it's, yeah, light footed or
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heavy footed, leadership is needed. >> one follow-up question. do you see the current situation, you talked about the instability and opportunity as they say in america, an opportunity to change the channel. is it likely an opportunity for assad to change the channel and get an engagement with israel and -- [inaudible] >> put aside -- discuss palestine, it is a unifying ground for arabs and for muslims so i don't -- i mean, again the danger of changing the subject away from syria is really multiple faceted, but those things would be an opportunity to strike a deal between the
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regime, and maybe they did all right, but it's not about giving back, and we can talk about the development more later, but i think the israelis have to decide actually what is it in interest? is it better to consider that jihadis, dangerous for them, if you will, and couple up with the regime or stay coupled up with the regime because they have been for a long time. is that in their better interest? is it in their interest to understand that this regime is gone, going, a selling point. doesn't matter whether it's within a month or year or two and therefore to hasten to cut short the escalation of the extremists and their empowerment, that the jihadists are weaker if it's done faster. the fact they are there and strong is because there's hesitation and procrastination.
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l kurdistan aspect, what would you like to contribute as far as the flow? >> yeah, thank you very much. thank you for invitation. it's good to be here. i think the syria regime has been expecting such developments for quite sometime, especially after the regime change in iraq. in fact, on several occasions when iraqi formed opposition groups when they were based in syria, and governing members were on official visits on bilateral ties that they had originally with the syria and the iranians, all such visits, they were asked who is next on the list? in fact, they were pretty sure that as iran and syria, but who is first? whether it's iran or syria. that was in the early days or
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months of the iraqi war. however, as things started to look somewhat ugh -- ugly in iraq, i think they -- it was a sigh of relief for them, but they have been expected that knock on the door for some time. perhaps the events in north africa has speeded up the process in a way to engulf syria that leads to promote such an ideal regime change in syria. the developments in last two years, you can say has been somewhat, one can call it the least can be a calamity with the killings of 35,000 lives lost and damages to the infrastructure, but unfortunately, the response for at least the efforts of the opposition or the support for
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the opposition has not been matching the change. the factors, someone pointed out, there's the settling of the russian and the iranian factors. also the internal factors of the opposition. as it was mentioned very earlier, the first few months it was very peaceful demand of reforms, and it took months thereafter to respond by heavy military, exercises by the regime which continues to this very day. the internal opposition or the rebels or the freedom fighters and the wings mostly abroad,
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there may well be no solid interaction between the two and not a clear agenda so far. yes, there has been meetings in turkey, in other countries, and more recently in dohair, qatar, a small gulf state wants to play it big. it was a big event for them. whether it is inclusive in the sense that all opposition figures and key figures within an outside of within that structure, i would say it's the formation of the new structure, it's probably either a premature birth or a late delivery, premature in the sense it is not that inclusive. late delivery two years of this
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destruction, and they have been able to come to this point which is not quite satisfactory. unless there's international intervention such as what you had in libya with a no fly zone and i think this status quo continues, and up fortunately -- unfortunately, they will continue to suffer. >> officially, the leadership advised the groups to be somewhat cautious and not to spearhead any developments or changes for one reason perhaps. this could have been manipulated by the regime to confuse the kurds, and as always, a second israel, and so on and so forth so it was very, i think, wise
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move to be in proposition groups, but at the same time to be engaged to an extent they have been able to control certain areas which was abandoned by the security and the military apparatus, but at the same time, they took part in opposition meetings and gathering. however, they were reluck at that particular time to continue to be part of that due to the very fact that the opposition did not have a very clear agenda or strategy or road map. ..
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but some because of the demands. however, the circumstance in turkey is different to that. the area in turkey which is almost 900 kilometers, large pockets that are controlled by the kurds, turkey has expressed concern over the dominance in that area. a group called p. white the which is known or thought to be close. but apart from that there are many modern groups who are on the scene. i believe turkey can reach out to them and to operate and coordinate. anything may happen.
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one hundred years ago with some major developments in the middle east after the first world war. here we are, the very same critical point. there are changes in the region, political changes, dare i say border changes. so in any vote the -- in any eventuality, the key players, the key actors must be ready. it's serious business. >> you of the border thing for the end of the conversation. obviously the heart's desire of most kurds is to be reunited. give me a sense of how close the release sip is between northern -- what kind of the affirmation is flowing to the kurds in syria. obviously lessons learned in what happened. is there a mentor should going on? is there high level constant communication or how much of the conversation is happening within
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the kurds across boundaries? >> the difference -- there is an affinity for our brothers. it's very natural. i think we have been very cautious not to the scene intervening directly in the affairs of our neighbors, although we have not hidden our thoughts. we would like to see the enjoy when of democrat. there has been and are still serious contacts, especially with the moderate groups, different political groups in syria, kurdish groups. they have held conferences. not only that, but also to get them to sign a pact. unfortunately they have not been honoring the agreement, but this
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contact caused 30,000 syrian nationals. kurds have fled cereal living in iraqi kurdistan. >> of me see if i can recaps we can move on to the next session. there seems to be agreement that there is a stalemate in syria right now. as you said, a little bit of disagreement on the level of maturity of the coming together of the opposition. and also some discussion about what is required for western nato american intervention. so let's move to the what ifs aspect of what we're talking about no and the move to the idea of military intervention because at this point i think it's pretty clear that the west, nato, united states has determined it is not a national interest to get involved in the syrian conflict. i would like each of you to think about at what point does it become derek -- and their national interest and if it does
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what is the most effective thing going forward? >> syrians have begun to compare this situation to that of bosnia, the inch-community intervening. and i think it was more about shamed into a situation. and the population of 5 million when you had 200,000 being ethnically cleansed, that is with the international community to put into a very difficult situation and had to intervene. you have a civilian population and you have a regime that is waging a full-scale war. it's fully armed. you have a population that is trying to defend itself with small arms and increasingly bigger arms because as the soldiers, some of the preventive some of the free syrian army. and some of them actually confided in us that perhaps the
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don't even need to be armed. the arms supply is coming from within as people defect from the army, so that is a security threat, not just for countries, but the civilian population that is becoming increasingly caught between two sides. and now the free syrian army is no longer doing the defense job because, as i said earlier, now they want to create some sort of a strategic plan in which they cut the supplies off the of the regime forces and take over areas, sometimes of the opposition of some of the local population. i had this happen to my own family, their relatives and families of many members as syrian opposition. free syrian army forces enter certain areas and declare them liberated. the regime forces come and show these areas. however, when you talk to the people, even if they approve of the strategies of the three
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syrian army, they are still more aligned with the free syrian army than with -- for example, i heard there is looting happening in some areas. i want to ask. there were shocked that i would even ask. the three syrian army generally protect the civilian population. trying to subjugate the civilian population. but the situation, i think, you have now serious cut of between two sides. increasingly getting stronger. reports yesterday. the increased amount of supplies coming from within god that is also creating a new situation. >> go ahead.
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>> the what ifs an area that you suggested. a late a little bit. so what if president's bashar al-assad which have tomorrow and besides, it's a good thing for me to step down now. that's not going to happen. let's just put the impossible scenarios out of the question. what if the iranian government decides that, you know, syria is a logger the linchpin for me. the survival of the syrian regime is essential for iran. there has been a lot of focus of less than 10% working actively with the government and syria. but to iran as the state has been defying security council resolutions that prevented under chapter seven from extending military aid to syria or anywhere else for that matter. and boasting about its.
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my understanding is they even have pilots operating in syria. they are not hiding their absolute commitment to that. and yet no one has moved and security council. that the americans, not the british, not the french. so the iranian influence is huge. it is a connection with hezbollah. so that is what if iran changes its mind. and then the bigger, the neighbors. what will happen for the neighbors. before i do the neighbors, what if russia changes its mind? now, that is valuable. what does it take? it takes that. >> an opening for russia. >> yes. absolutely. right now this is the path. reshuffle the cards.
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is there opportunity? again, i don't think that it is -- okay. i know it happened. containment. and all weight and so it takes place. what happens, the bosnian example, the afghan example. but it's just not -- it's still an opportunity for discussion amongst big powers and regional powers as to what needs to be done. that conversation must be had. and if it is, as precious as to the united states, listen, and to that disease the country's top my option is the following. i'm going to stick to demanding that it stays detrimental and most important in the transition , the political transition that they're talking about. if they're not going to budge, and if they're going to say to my alliances relief with iran, that would have to change the
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dynamic. because the gcc and iran are, of course -- i mean, there is the option of syria as the linchpin. syria can break the backbone of iran rather than the united states to weaken iran with a military strike. president obama is not going to do anyway. in a way that becomes strike iran work through syria. and hezbollah as well, which brings me to the regional equation. emmy, looked at what is happening and jordan today. very, very dangerous what's going on, what's happening, the escalation. if she had watched the statement by the secretary of has the last week, you would know that escalation, the decision has been taken to escalate. the whole region is in the mode, as to its domestic emasculate. so what if things get out of control? i mean, you may tell me know.
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new leaders in egypt. the muslim brotherhood. take there time because they're not crash. they're going to enter into a war with israel. at sickened you're right. i don't think there will. but, you know, when you push too much, what happens? lucky that there happens to be an american election. so everybody hid behind each other. the security council, russia and china said sen. he is banking on iran all the time. and now he is being lucky enough , change the subject. he's been dying to do that in lebanon and everything else. now they're doing it for him in gaza. so he's been a lucky guy. >> maker really a point. tambov to the audience here. that is, the escalation of the escalation, escalation.
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microphones. stand up and shout it out. [inaudible question] actually, the security. research came out last year. a single status predictor of the level of security, not its welcome mat gdp, level of democratization, at the religious affiliation. is the way it treats its women and that even democracies that have high levels of violence against women are less stable than non democracies. so the reason i asked, time and again we cannot rely on the parties of the conflict.
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women's rights, the first thing that was negotiated away, agreed upon in a confidence-building measures that there would not need to be included in formal negotiations. the past 30 years to my thing to present to the people resigned formal peace agreements have been women. harken back to yesterday about the old momma and the current normal and the future normal, women are playing a significant and dramatic roles in revolutions and are excluded when it comes time to the formal process budget question is? >> what can we actually do at this point to signal support for women in syria and various other parts, countries that are undergoing similar situations. i know some of this relates to a long-term support, but what are the tools we have attention national committee right now to those not to harm an influx backlash. this is something that we are actually serious about, something that we want to seek an something with our financial support and political leverage can actually make a difference on.
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thank you. >> as well. >> second start. i think many people are not aware of some of the internal dynamics of the syrian national council. and to be fair, many of the men were supportive of the women. you have almost three women who made to the general security. what happened, that was was -- that's why there was electoral designed. the results depend on the way you decide the election. elections were designed around reading for small, small at cs where you needed only eight voices to actually be elected to the electoral, to the general secretariat. if you get seven voices, that was not enough. what happens is that during the day i, for example, kept holding my vote because i was trying to make sure that minorities elected. many people were just excited about the election process. as serious, there were yearning
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to cast their vote. and they have cast their votes in the morning and then realized, you have quite a big gap in terms of representation of minorities and women. by the afternoon not many voices left, so we were frantically trying to create a balance, and we could not really hit it. i have to admit that i have been a burst several times to move up to the general secretariat and even to the executive office. however, because i do not represent always the mainstream of where the revolution has been having to my cab declining because i wanted syrian people to see people who are more representative of their demands in the state of the revolution command the early days i was more up front because the non-violence, was also in the front row. it came to organizing and immobilizing. so really, i mean, it's not as simple as it sounds. we increase the participation of women in the syrian national council. in a new coalition there's an emphasis on the participation of women. it's not secular and islamic when it comes to feminist
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issues. there are islamist activists are more interested in minority representation and feminist issues and there are some secular forces that are not bothered by these issues. so i think, you know, once you get to know the people it's not as clearly as it appears in the media. it's a bit more complicated. [inaudible question] >> once they are in power we did neutralized or marginalized and pushed out. women have always been part of a stroke, the ones they take power it's already over. and take a look at the other elements. when the muslim brotherhood arrows in arab countries, egypt, tunisia, morocco to my the west, some sectors of the western europe and the united states had this love fest with the muslim brotherhood like they of the moderates and there are -- you
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know, all of a sudden embrace them. all of a sudden the secularists are marginalized. all of us. we worked like, you did not matter. and the worst thing is that they said that, they called us the secular spirited said we were part of that regime that we were really instrumental in the revolution to bring down. so all of a sudden it was okay to compromise women's rights. absolutely right. all of a sudden it became live service paid to women. and there was no action taken. one thing that is absolutely necessary. guarantees that there would be no monopoly of power because that's exactly what is happening in egypt. the muslim brotherhood, they are really patient. they know how to do building blocks. and then as a national security issue, women, you know, the population, the economy, it's
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about the national-security, and i think western countries have really, you know, women, women, women. comes right down. it's all out of the window. >> definitely experiencing. a little ahead of the curve. >> a discernible. just getting into it. your attention. the lemon. the opposition. representation in its construction and lead. if you recall, happens to be the spokeswoman of the national council. estes is now.
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very, very, very long name, by the way. revolutionary forces. which means it did not survive. the name has to change. >> shorten its. because we also have a woman representative. >> i wanted to underline that the vice president. [inaudible] >> the national syrian figures. we cannot resolve a very legitimate affirmation. in that sense, more prospects for us. >> all right. i would just like to move on to another question if i can.
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>> i was the ambassador to syria until about march. i arrived there in the summer of 2008. i watched things develop. a great fondness for the country, the traditions of coexistence and tolerance which have marked the country which is generally little known in the west. the recent change in the opposition presented some are virginities. i think this has been most terribly missing over the past year-and-a-half. that think that there is an opportunity now to my window opporunity. i suggest that the appointment was made about the fact that this will allow stop as long as the sides are in power. there should be no illusion about that. i would say that in addition to
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that, the reasons there still in power across the country, support and your of the regime which keeps the security force and the army out of sight. the window of opportunity as see right now is for the new coalition to look at the weekend position that the government is ten and to look at what can be done to weaken the support of the security force for the military. they will fear the security force the military will fear the inevitable cycle of revenge and retribution. that should be. just the coalition needs to do what is really hard. the lookout author. make representation to the security force those that committed terrible crimes will need to be held accountable.
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the rank-and-file soldiers, security council needs a new place. an opportunity. the longer this goes on the more that will diminish. i think it's very important. >> to you believe that we should arm that group? that this group is the kind of organization that gives us more confidence that if we are made to a higher degree that it will have the desired outcome? >> the whole issue. i mean, it is very easy to talk about solutions drawn past examples. i hear talk about the no-fly zones. the solution, the internal solution. set the stage for peace and not make it worse. i think what this ambassador
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says assist the opposition in order to push its agenda which is for liberation, of the road to democracy. it has been viewed in a negative way, imposing ideas from the outside. i think this syrian people should be the ones to decide what their future should look like. how you going to do it is a mechanism that is in place. not sufficient. >> so would it take? >> there has been some examples. he's one tries to have this conference on the rump patch. in order to address some of their own concerns.
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any other country for that matter. not so much influence. regional or elsewhere. a clear agenda. addressing all issues going up. sufficient time to out some clarity on how the future of syria should look like. it should reflect the will and wisdom of the desire and the population. >> sticking your lesson from libya where the opposition was a little more advanced and cohesive before the intervention? >> two years ago. a still a degree going on.
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the syrian society belong to, including libyans, the free society. culturally more advanced. i think especially with the case , the syrians have the sensitivity. >> about the possible action. what was your feeling in the case of the no-fly zone over syria or other kinds of early intervention, how russia may react and the issue.
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>> what we find so far right now when things come to the security council that russia is going to budge. even after the region, the trilateral agreement, there will move on to the united nations next week or the week after. the idea of -- that would be quite basic. start with the cease-fire. to demonstrate their regime. is not going to implement that. this seems to me that russia is not going to allow it unless something happens between now and the time it goes to the security council. at the level of that larger composition. such a conversation starts and there could be the possibility of that grand bargain. it's also needed. becoming more and more urgent. if sir is a decision to go to the security council, the revolution, that is really a
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serious decision. the security council. this is where the matter. princess to that meeting again. the other options. what does it take? well, basically is going to take nato to say turkey, where fine. you're going to have to do this. it has to happen outside of the security council. the ambassador, they have a very important role. they should have, could have, and may still be able to play in syria. the connections, the military hierarchy. they could in florence the development on that level, on
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the local level, if you will. if they make the deep. the regime, lebanon, iran, russia. and a lesser extent china. don't kid yourself about that. and very determined to say this is mine. now, maybe president obama should also look at what can the united states give to the russians in the region? is it okay to give them -- i mean, it is about give-and-take. personally i think that they wanted a foothold. let them have it personally, but i think the composition is about something much larger. and fortunately the hate to say so bluntly -- bluntly.
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the in russia. it wants to regain its might and the superpower them at the expense of the children and the women in the fight juice, the freedom fighters. this is an unfortunate matter, but is the way it's looking now. >> one more question for you. >> the issue in terms of the syrian crisis, a proposal. and the size of the importance of russia. the dysfunction. but it is more reluctance in
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terms of taking the position. you speak of an axis of russia, the regime. yet we recall that the russians' commitment and connection to serbia was much more strong in the case of kosovo and bosnia. and in bosnia, echoes a vote, the intervention, a convention of the international community meeting u.s. policy you. outside. the security council resolution and the intervention to bosnia or cosimo. the media case.
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just seeing these difference, the context for politics. the iraqi example also for syria. but cosimo and bosnia, much more valid compared together. yet russia brings up, the clarity, non clarity of the western world, syria, the last thing i just want to add. as yet because they pointed out for obama, his position, the light footprints approach. kofi annan brought a great to benefit to this american
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approach in 1700. now we have this mission. faribault's doomed to failure. the remote. >> all right. we have run out of time. obviously we made a crack any way in getting a better understanding of what is going on. it's only fair to say, you said yesterday, to see in paris right now.
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he's basically tell his students that everything that happens of the next few months will be studied for many, many years. all the main players are facing tests right now. civilians a dying. the power balance is shifting under our feed and no one knows where it will end up. thank you for your time, your contribution. [applause] >> in a few moments senate leaders harry reid and mitch mcconnell on a possible change to set rules regarding the filibuster. forty-five minutes chief justice john roberts and the supreme court and constitutional law. after that, part of our coverage of the halifax international security forum, including a look at the u.s. role in global politics and the situation in syria. several live events tell you about tomorrow morning.
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former florida governor jeb bush will be speaking at the foundation for excellence in education. you can once that event here on c-span2 at 845 eastern. just after that at 9:00 a.m. eastern on c-span three the foreign policy initiative begins a daylong symposium on foreign policy. such a look at congress, national security was arizona senator john kyl. then on c-span, a forum on energy policy hosted by the bipartisan policy center. former senators and byron dorgan. that is at 10:00 a.m. eastern. >> on 16 of 17 bases in the united states we have military-run schools. the average cost to educate a child in that school per year is $50,000. almost four times what the rest of public education costs.
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and the vast majority of our bases use public schools. we could take the money we're spending today, pay every public school system 14,000 per child and save billions of dollars per year and with the same or better outcomes. >> this weekend, you can talk with oklahoma senator about the fiscal clef, affordable care act to amend the future of the republican party on book tv. the senator has written several books and reports, including his latest, the debt bomb. join our three our conversation with calls, e-mails, tweet, and facebook comments. live sunday at noon eastern on book tv in depth on c-span2. >> there has been speculation in washington about whether or not the senate would change its rules regarding the filibuster when congress reconvenes i steer . leaders mitch mcconnell and harry reid ron the senate floor
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monday talking about what may be at stake. this is 45 minutes. >> i would like to turn totoesnt another issue that does not grab t many headlines as these focus others we have been focused on the last few days. critically important since it relates to the mortal threat ben that has been quietly gatheringo against one of the most cherished safeguards of our on e government., most of referring bell latest efforts by some on the other side to most of whom have never served a daye on the minority to force changey in rules that would o fundamentally change the character of the senate this is no exaggeration. what these democrats have in mind is a fundamental change to the way the senate operates for the purpose of consolidating their own power and further marginalizing the minority voices the senate was built to protect. in the name of efficiency, their plan is to use a heavyhanded tactic that would poison party relations even more.
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in the name of efficiency, they would prevent the very possibility of compromise and threaten to make the disputes of the past few years look like mere pillow fights. to understand why, let me explain in a little more detail what's being proposed. what this small group of primarily senate sophomores is now proposing is that when the senate gavels in at the beginning of the new congress, a bare majority of senators can disregard the rule that says changes to the senate's rules can only be approved on the same broad bipartisan basis we reserve for approving treaties and overriding presidential vetoes, a supermajority-plus. lyndon johnson once said of the 67-vote threshold for changes to the rules that it -- quote -- "preserves indisputably the character of the senate as the one continuing body in our policy making process." end quote.
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and senator reid himself once described changing the senate procedure by majority fiat as -- quote -- "breaking the rules to change the rules." end quote. what's being proposed now would undermine the very purpose of the senate as the one place in our system where minority views and opinions have been respected and heard, and in most cases incorporated into law. until now you could say that protecting the rights after political minority have always been a defining characteristic of the senate. that's why members of both parties have always defended it, whether they were in the majority or the minority. because they knew the senate was the last legislative check against the kind of raw exercise of power majority parties have always been tempted to wield. the congressional record contains literally mountains of reverential statements by republicans and democrats extolling the near-sacred characteristic of the senate as the one legislative body on earth that protects minority
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views from majority rule. and it requires supermajorities for anything significant to become law. why is that? so that majorities can't simply roll over those who disagree with them and, just as importantly, so majority parties are forced to resolve the great issues of the moment in the middle, ensuring their stability and their permanence. it's this mechanism that has so frustrated majority parties over the years but which has ensured -- at least most of the time -- that our laws are stable and not subject to change every time the parties change power. this is what makes the senate different. this is what makes this body great. and up until recently many of those who now want to change these rules agreed with what i just said. just a few years ago, as i've already indicated, the majority leader was one of the staunchest defenders of the senate's
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protection of minority rights for all of the reasons i've mentioned. yet now he finds himself frustrated with those rules. he's prepared to recklessly throw those rules away. on december 8, 2006, the majority leader made a public pledge to fight all efforts to change rules protecting the minority once he became the majority leader. it is a pledge he repeated during another proposed rules change two years ago. i want to quote in full what the majority leader said that day because, in light of his words, it's hard to believe what he's proposing to do now. here's what he said. "as majority leader, i intend to run the senate with respect for the rules and for the minority rights the rules protect. the senate was not established to be efficient. sometimes the rules get in the way of efficiency. the senate was established to make sure that minorities are
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protected. majorities can always protect themselves," senator reid said, "but minorities cannot. that is what the senate is all about. for more than 200 years the rules of the senate has protected the american people and rightfully so. the need to muster 60 votes in order to terminate senate debate naturally frustrates the majority and be oftentimes the minority. i'm sure it will frustrate me when i assume the offers of majority leader in a few weeks, but i recognize this requirement is a tool that serves the long-term interests of the senate and the american people and our country. it is often said that the laws are the system of wise restraints that set men free. the same might be said of the senate rules. i will do my party as majority leader to foster respect for the rules and traditions of our great institution. i say this on the floor that i love so much that i believe in
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the golden rule. i'm going to treat my republican colleagues the way i expect to be treated. there is no 'i've gout' no "'get even'' i'm going to do everything i can to preserve the rules of this institution that i love. ings" that's the end of the quo from my friend, the majority leader, just a few years ago. he acknowledged that the senate was not established to be efficient but rather to make sure that minority oz are protected. -- that minorities are protected. and with this fundamental purpose of the senate in mind, he pledged i would do everything he could to preserve the traditions and rules of this institution that he loves. it's hard to imagine a clearer pledge than that. and i'l i'm afraid that going bk on it now would have such a corrosive effect on come that i
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it would threaten the ability to get anything done around here. the rule change is not an afor-profit to me or the republican party. it is an affront to the american people. it is an affront to people who sent me and the other 46 republicans here to represent them in the senate. but whose voices would be shut out if the majority leader and it cohort of sort-sighted senate sov fores had their way and permanently changed this boavmentd at the moment republicans represent the voters of 31 states, representing a total population of more than 180 million americans. shutting off our right to express the views of our constituents as is being proposed would effectively shut these people out of the process. what the majority leader and his cohort of senators who don't seem to understand what the senate was intended for are proposing would guarantee that
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the one sure means our constituents now have of being heard in washington would be gone. if a bare majority can proceed to any bill it chooses and once hon that bill the majority leader all by himself can shut out all amendments that aren't to his liking, then those who elected us to advocate for their views will have lost their voice in this legislative process. this is something the majority leader used to understand. he used to understand that protecting the rights of the minority party meant protecting the right of the people who sent us here to be heard in washington. he understood the importance of defending the minority view when he was in the minority. but now h he seems to have forgotten all of that. the people of kentucky elected two republican snows to the senate. does the majority leader think the views of the people of kentucky shouldn't be heard? does he think that nevadans who
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sent senator heller to the senate shouldn't be heard? does he believe that on the day he finds himself in the minority once again that he should no longer be heard? or does he think that democrats will remain in p the majority from now until the end of time? for the past several years many of us on the republican side have raised loud objection to the diminished rights of the minority to participate in the legislative process around here. democratic leaders have tried in more ways than one to silence those they disagree with. they've blocked members, including their own committee chairmen, from expressing themselves in committee through unprecedented use of senate rule 14, which allows them to bypass committees altogether. and they've blocked members from expressing themselves on the floor through an unprecedented use of filling the amendment tree which prevents the senate from considering amendments the majority leader doesn't like.
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no amendments in committee. no amendments on the floor. the majority leader made this clear to senator mccain in a remarkable moment of candor when he bragged that -- quote -- "the amendment days are over." end quote. es a preferred to right -- he's preferred to write legislation in the confines of his room rather than in the public eye, as he did most famously with the drafting of obamacare. and i say to everyone, if he want more legislation around here crafted that way, the way that bill was crafted, then you ought to be pretty enthusiastic about what the majority leader is proposing. because that's where this is headed. more authoritarianism, more secrecy, and even less input from rank-and-file members on both sides of the aisle. as i say, we protested all this and have spoken out loudly against these abuses of the senate, but now the majority leader wants to go even further. he doesn't propose to simply
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abuse the rules; he wants to break the rules and is his own very public pledge to defend those rules at all costs. make no mistake, what the majority leader is proposing is a senate where the only rule is his whim, where the rest of us are bystanders, including the members of his own party. the democrats really want to go down this road? they really think they're going in the majority forever? we've got members here from both parties who used in serve in the house, democrats and republicans, who say to me they thought the senate was different p. i don't care whether you are a republican or a democrat. you came to the senate because you knew that here you could make a difference for your constituents. here you ha you'd be heard.
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here you could offer amendments. here the minority was protected. here the majority leader had to work with the other side. what even senate democrats have discovered over the past few years is a i hav is a very diff, a place where committees no longer matter, where members of both parties are shut out of the debate, and where bills are drafted behind closed doors, where politicians trade favors in secret instead of exchanging ideas in public, just to get legislation across the finish line. you know, when i come to the senate every day, i know i work in a body of people who have different views than i do. -- about the role of government and the best solutions to the problems we face. but i know that the price of belonging to this place is having to hear them out and to vote on their ideas.
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and that the price of belonging here is that they have to do the same thing. the american people need to know what's going on here. and that's why i hope that republicans and hopefully many democrats who care about this institution, rather than some temporary exercise of raw partisan political power, will come forward over the next few weeks and speak out against this naked power grab. and when they do, i hope they'll be guided by the words of other former democratic senator who said the following about the senate and its uniqueness: this is what this former democratic nor said. -- this is what this former democratic senator said. "the american people sent us here to be their voice. he understand that these voices at times can be loud and arguive. but they always hope we can disagree without being
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disagreeable. at the end the day they expect both parties to work together get the people's business done. what they do not peculiar is for one party, be it republican or democrat, to change the rules in the middle of the game so that they can make all the decisions while the other party is told to sit down and to keep quiet. the american people want less partisanship in this town but everyone in this chamber knows that if the majority chooses to end the filibuster, if they choose to change the rules and put an end to democratic debate, then the fighting, the bitterness, and the gridlock will only get worse." that senate democrat was president obama. i don't often agree with president obama on matters of policy and the issue he was referring to here was different
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than this one, but the principle he expressed in defendin defends position then is one i believe in wholeheartedly. so let me sum it up this way. for the sake of this institution and the future of the country, i implore members on both sides to oppose this naked power grab strenuously and loudly. it may be the most important thing you ever do. because the debates. moment are passing -- because the debates of the moment are passing. but the senate must endure. and nothing less is at stake. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: the republican
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leader said it's absolutely true. i follow the golden rule. and it's very clear what's happened during this congress. we can go over all the numbers, and i think they really project what's happened, about the hundreds and hundreds of times that we have been forced to file cloture on relatively meaningless things. my friend, the republican leader, claims changing the rules is make the senate more efficient is an assault on minority rights. it is a response to the abuse of the filibuster by senate republicans. he keeps talking about getting rid of the filibuster. i or no one on the democrat side has proposed getting rid of the filibuster. but we have proposed making this place more efficient. we had a run at this two years ago. we had a so-called gentlemen's agreement that the motion to proceed would be filibustered
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rarely. it's filibustered virtually every time a bill came up. i'm proposing that we do away with filibusters on motions to proceed, period. to the average men, these reforms are just common sense, mr. president. americans believe congress is broken. once again the only ones who disagree are mitch mcconnell and republicans in congress. the american people know democrats and republicans, that this place isn't working and there need to be changes so we can proceed to get some legislation passed. we know that during lyndon johnson's six years, and i will have six years in the same position at the end of this year, i have faced 386 filibusters. it keeps going up because we had a couple more. lyndon johnson, one.
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today it takes more than a week -- in fact, it takes about ten days to even begin considering a bill before we're even on the bill let alone trying to pass that legislation. it's time to get the senate working again. not for the good of the current democratic majority or future majority but for the good of the country. and for these plaintive cries that we're getting rid of the filibuster simply isn't true. and, mr. president, the filibuster, i believe in it. i believe the -- in minority rights. the filibuster is not part of the constitution. it's something we developed here to help get legislation passed. now it's being used to stop legislation from passing. so, mr. president, we're going to continue moving forward to make the senate more efficient. does that mean it will be really efficient? no. because we're changing one aspect of the filibuster rule. and what is that?
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we're going to change that that takes us ten days to simply get on a bill before we can start to legislate. the american people know this is the right way to go. the only people that think the senate is working now with this obstruction at every step of the way are the republicans. mr. president, i've said this before, any change that has been suggested in these rules that we believe need to be changed wouldn't affect if i were in the minority. i would have many, many opportunities to take care of this sparsely populated state of nevada and do the other issues i want to defend. but, mr. president, we believe that there should be one aspect of the senate that changes, and that is this motion to proceed should be a nondebatable motion to proceed. simple as that. and the american people agree. i repeat, the only ones who disagree, that think this senate is working well are the republican leader and those republicans in congress.
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: i hope the majority leader will stay on the floor here. i gather the way the majority leader proposes to effectuate this rules change is to violate the surpbt rule of the senate. -- the current rule of the senate. to do it with a simple majority. mr. reid: of course. that statement is untrue and i don't accept that. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, i believe i have the floor. that's the point. what the majority leader is saying is he will break the rules of the senate in order to change the rules of the senate. it has been the case in the past that it took a supermajority of 67, which, of course, meant most rules changes occurred because the two leaders agreed to them and were proposing them jointly. instead what the majority leader is saying is that he will propose to change the rules with 51 votes, meaning his side gets to decide what the rules are. and the danger of that, of
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course, is let's assume -- i know the majority leader must think he's going to be the majority leader forever, but what if he isn't? and what if it's two years from now. and what if my members say if 51 democrats can change the rules of the senate, why can't 51 republicans? why should we have to fiddle with these people in the minority? what's the point? why not just change the rules of the senate and turn the senate into the house? that is why lyndon johnson felt so strongly that a rules change should require a supermajority of 67, not 60, thereby virtually guaranteeing that any significant changes in the way the body operates are done on a bipartisan basis. further, the majority leader calls anything a filibuster when he decides to file a cloture petition, which he routinely does on virtually every bill and
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then complains because we're reluctant to go to the bill without some assurances we're going to be able to offer amendments. so here's the way it works. the majority leader calls up a bill. he fuels cloture on the motion to proceed -- he files cloture on the motion to proceed. we enter into a discussion in order to get some understanding that we're going to have a chance to offer any amendments. and the reason we engage in that discussion is because throughout the last congress, getting to offer an amendment was kind of an unusual thing. because as soon as you get on the bill, the majority leader fills up the amendment tree, which means that he alone gets to decide -- he alone out of 100 of us -- gets to decide who gets to offer an amendment. in other words, he gets to pick our amendments for us. look, the motion to proceed has been an irritant to the majority leader. had i been in his job, what i would have done is put somebody
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in the chair, keep the person in the chair, keep the person .. night and wear him down. we're almost never in at night. i can't remember the last time we had a vote on a friday. it's pretty easy working in the senate because we never use the fatigue factor to accomplish things. we've actually had some examples, by the way, of doing things the right way. we had three bills earlier this year that, believe it or not, actually came out of committee, were actually supported by democrats and republicans on the committee who worked on the bill in committee. they actually came out on the floor. they were open for amendment. and they actually passed. postal reform, the transportation bill, the farm bill. all handled in a normal way that we used to do virtually every bill in the senate. none of them were written in the majority leader's office as far as i could tell. and the thing all three had in
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common is they actually passed the senate, and members felt like they were invested in the process. so, look, we don't have a rules problem. we've got a behavioral problem. and when the majority leader believes that he gets to decide what happens on every bill, that's beyond the purview of the job that he holds. what we need to do is start operating in a normal fashion, which respects the views and involvement of all members of the senate on both parties. and is it a little bit harder to engage in these discussions? yeah, it is. it is harder. but to go out and decide to break the rules to change the rules because you might have to work a little bit harder to get where you're headed strikes me as a disservice to the institution, a disservice to the
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senate. and nobody's going to buy this notion about all these filibusters. he's filing cloture on the motion to proceed on day one, and the reason he's had to file cloture on the motion to proceed so frequently is because we can't get any assurance from the majority leader that we're going to be able to allow any amendments. that's the problem. we need to behave differently. that's the way to get this place functioning again. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i had the pleasure of serving with one of the great senators in the history of this country. daniel patrick moynihan of new york. and he said people are entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts. and that's what my friend, now, has his own set of facts which belie the record that's before the american people. it's ironic that the republican leader complains about those who want to change the senate rules. it's ironic because he's been at
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the forefront of abusing these rules for the past six years. it's ironic because when he was in the majority seven years ago, he sought to change the rules to streamline votes on judicial nominations. he was part of that program. and it's ironic because he's one of a very small group of people who think the senate's working just fine. mr. president, rules change around here. they change. it used to be to cut off a filibuster took 67 votes. the senate changed that because it became too burdensome. now, mr. president, i've said on many occasions, and i'll say here, i've said this in public gatherings and private gatherings, these minor changes that i'm suggesting wouldn't affect anyone that have the
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thought of making america better, if i were the minority. to stop a filibuster on a motion to proceed to a bill, take ten days to get on a bill? i don't think that's good and we need to change that. so, mr. president -- mr. mcconnell: would the majority leader yield on that point? mr. reid: just one second. i'd be happy to. just one second. mr. president, also he keeps talking about not following the rules. we're following the rules. we're following the constitution of the united states to make these changes. that's certainly appropriate. your question? mr. mcconnell: if this is such a reasonable rules change, why not work to try to propose it on a joint basis subjected to the 61-vote threshold that would honor the tradition that the senate is a continuous body whose rules go from congress to congress? that's what's been unique about the way rules changes have been done around here. mr. reid: mr. president -- mr. mcconnell: one further question. in addition, how would you feel
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if two years from now i have your job and my members are saying let's get rid of the filibuster altogether with 51 votes? mr. reid: i think that would be wrong. we're not trying tpo get rid of the filibuster. what we're doing is changing this tiny aspect of what goes on around here so people would have to do a couple of things. one, not file a filibuster simply getting on a bill. also, if they want a filibuster, stand and talk about it. not be in your office someplace. senator durbin reminded me of one senator, a republican senator, who forced us to be here over the weekend, and he left. went back to a wedding in his state. mr. president, i repeat for the third time, the only people that think the senate's working really well right now are the republican leader and the republican senators, because it's not working well. they've abused the process. they've abused something that was set up to help legislation get passed. the filibuster.
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they've abused it. and now the filibuster is on everything. they can talk all they want about filling the amendment tree and all that. that is so -- mr. president, that has no bearing on what's going on around here. we have -- we try to get things done. the defense bill is a good example. i said let's move to the defense bill. they objected to it. they have been talking about it for months. i agreed to move to it, no preconditions at all. we have to do other things. we have a very short period of time here now and everything around here is the big stall. and he talks about getting bills done. mr. president, we have -- this congress has gotten almost nothing done. we have struggled through a highway bill that took six weeks. we spent most of our time on that. dealing with contraception. we were able to work through that. we had a postal bill that we
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spent a lot of time on that here. the house put that in there garbage pile. nothing's happened with that. the farm bill, same thing. almost nothing done. why? because we have spent weeks -- weeks -- even simply getting on a bill so we can start legislating. so, mr. president, the republican leader thinks things are going well here. he's in a distinct minority because things aren't going well around here. i think an example, i repeat, lyndon johnson one cloture. harry reid, 386. that says it all. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: when i quote the majority leader, i use his exact words, which i did throughout my comments. he makes up words for me. i've never said the senate's working fine. i think the senate has been disastrously run for the last two years. disastrously run. not because of the rules, but
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because of the operation. and it's certainly not the fault of the republicans. take the budget, for example, which can be done with a simple majority. we haven't had a budget in three years. the law says you're supposed to pass the budget. it doesn't say don't pass the budget if you don't want to. don't pass the budget if you might have to offer amendments. it doesn't say don't pass a budget if you might have to negotiate with a republican house. it says pass a budget. we haven't called up a single appropriations bill. look, if one senator has a problem to go to a bill, file cloture on a motion to proceed. had the majority leader done that on the defense bill, it would have been approved overwhelmingly. he could have done it on a friday. it would have been approved on a monday. the obstructionism that he complains about is pretty easily overcome if you're willing to make the place work a little
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bit. most people work monday to friday. not us. the senate used to be a nocturnal place because the majority leaders of both parties would use the fatigue factor to grind down opposition coming from a few people. we almost never do that. don't get me wrong, i say to my friend, the majority leader, i'm not defending the way the place has been run the last two years. i think it's been embarrassing. i have to apologize to my constituents for the way the place is run. but we had the same rules in earlier congresses and didn't have the same problem. and we've always had a few members on each side who wanted to exercise every one of their rights. i remember when i first got here, it was senator metzenbaum from ohio would sit out here on the floor and read every of bill. he was a big problem. nobody tried to change the rules.
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we worked this place. and so, look, what the majority leader conveniently continues to leave out is not only the rule that he wants to change but the way he wants to change it. the way he wants to change it. he wants to establish the precedent that 51 senators can change the rules any time they want to to take away the rights of everybody else, which will fundamentally change this institution. so no senator should buy the argument this is just a little-bitty change about the motion to proceed. this is about the way rules will be changed in the senate. no longer with a 67-vote threshold, obviously bringing the two leaders and their members together to agree to rules changes, but any time, on any whim any majority leader wants to change the rules, 51
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votes. this is no small matter. this is a big issue about the future of this country and how this institution ought to be operated. being majority leader's a tough job. you've got cantankerous members on both sides who want to exercise their rights. it's always been that way. but the way you get past it is you -- you work the place, you make it function, you talk to people, you treat them with respect. the collegiality that we used to have in this body has faded. faded because of the arrogance of power exercised by some. all of this is correctable because we're all human beings
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in here trying to do our best, trying to leverage the place in one way or another to seek some advantage, but that's the way the senate's always been. what i think we need is an attitude change. the election is behind us. whatever short-term advantage the majority may have felt it had by protecting its members from voting on almost everything is over. we don't need to have a perpetual election in the country. we have huge issues before us here at the end of the year, much of which will probably carry over into next year. it's a time that we ought to be building collegiality and relationships and not making incendiary moves that are damaging to the institution and could have serious ramifications on our ability to work together here at the end of the year.
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so i would encourage my friend, the majority leader, to think thoroughly through whether this is the direction he wants to take this body. i think it is a huge mistake. the american people sent us here to solve big problems and we ought to be concentrating on trying to bring everybody together behind an agreement -- hopefully it can be reached here before the end of the year -- to do really, really important work for the american people. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: the election is over and the american people listened to what we had to say, and they acknowledge without any question that the message we delivered is valid. the senate is a dysfunctional body caused by the republicans. we picked up seats in the sena senate.
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democrats picked up seats. the president was elected by 2 1/2 -- reelected by 2 1/2 million votes. we have an obligation to the american people to proceed and to get some things done. now, mr. president, my friend, the republican leader, talks about the golden rule. mr. president, i do believe in that and i believe two years ago there was an efforts made to change this body so that we could get some things done. we were given the assurance that the motion to proceed would not be used in the way that it's been used this time. any -- any suggestion of changing the rules is within the framework of what we do here in the senate and our constitution. we have an obligation to continually update this body so that it becomes more efficient. that's the history of this country. and i think that my friend, the republican leader, has to acknowledge that things haven't been going very well. he just did that. the election's over. we need to proceed to get things
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done. incendiary moves? we've -- i've been facing incendiary moves for two years. we can't get anything done around here, mr. president, because the republican obstructionism, the american people recognized that. and as i've traveled this country, people said, do something to change the senate so you can get things done. and we're making a minor change to stop the motion to proceed that we were told two years ago that they wouldn't use anymore. so, mr. president, we're going to go ahead and change these rules so the senate can become an effective body. we have a bicameral legislature and no one should suggest that i don't understand that. and no one should suggest that i don't understand the filibuster rule. i think i understand it as well as anybody that serves in this body and perhaps, with the exception of senator byrd, than anybody that's served in this body. so if senator byrd were here, i would suggest to everybody here, senator byrd wouldn't like what's going on here and he would work with us to get these rules changed. and that's why they need to be
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changed. we can't continue like this. we took people's word that they would help us get things done here and they rejected that. it simply was untrue. it was a falsehood. so, mr. president, i know what i've said in the past and i know what i -- what i've done in the past and i think that what we're doing is the -- is a positive step forward. to do away with the motion to proceed so that it's -- so that they can't filibuster a simple motion to proceed, stopping us from getting on a bill that takes us ten days to do that. and that's wrong. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: it doesn't take ten days to get on a bill, and what the majority leader has repeated now is he's going to break the rules to change the rules, which is a wonderful way to start off the new congress, at a time when the american people would like for to us work together and to solve the huge issues that lie before us.
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the majority leader has chosen instead to break the rules to change the rules because he's had difficulty getting on bills. it's a sad commentary about where the senate stands these days. i had hoped going into the lame-duck session we'd have an entirely different view of how to bring this place together and to begin to solve the problems. it's a sad day for the senate and we will go forward as best we can under this extraordinary set of circumstances. mr. reid: mr. president if. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid reid: no matter how may times my friend, the republican leader, says, "break the rules to change the rules, "doesn't make it true. we're going to follow the rules. i would also say this, i was stunned by reading the press today, a couple - of the hill
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newspapers. a couple republican senators said, we're going to make things really tough around here. i'm paraphrasing what they said. we're going to make things so bad if they take away our motion to have to file -- i mean, causing me to file cloture on motion the proceed. we're going to make things really difficult. really difficult? when the republican leader said his number-one goal in this congress was to defeat president obama? and that's how they've legislated. everything was to the effort of making sure that barack obama did not serve again. mr. president, there -- there are a myriad of examples. take this one. this is -- this is great to show how hard they worked to put the country on the right track. we decided with firefighters, police officers, and schoolteachers being laid off -- about a million -- we thought, we've got to -- we've had some decent, not wonderful but growth in the private sector and we've
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gotten back lots of -- millions of jobs. we decided, let's do something in the public sector that. would really help stimulate the economy. so we decided to move to a bill that said what we want to do is rehire those firefighters, police officers, and teachers. and we're going to pay for that. no more deficit spending. we'll pay for it by having a surtax on people who make more than $1 million a year. and that surtax is .3%. they stopped it. they stopped it dead in its tracks. every republican voted against that. that is the way that they have legislated this entire year. and by our getting rid of the motion to proceed, that we're turning country upside-down is ridiculous. it's not true. they have legislated with the effort to defeat obama. he won. he won by 2 1/2 million votes,
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325 -- 327 electoral votes, overwhelming. even though they did everything they could to stop him from being reelected. everyone knows what a failure this congress has been because of what the senate has done and that's nothing. nothing. no job creation. they didn't want that. it would -- if -- if we had had some ability to create jobs, it would have helped obama, it would have helped the country. but, no, that wasn't what they wanted to do. and a terrible day for them last year was the -- several months ago, the supreme court -- can you believe that? -- the supreme court declared obama-care constitutional? i mean, you talk about disappointment. this whole year has been a disappointment for them because
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they haven't been able to stop obama from getting reelected, even though they did everything they could to prevent him from being reelected. and then obama-care being declared constitutional. mr. president, no, we're not going to break the rules to change the rules. we're going to follow the rules to make a couple of minor changes to make this place more efficient. and that's what the senate has always been about, is revising itself to become more efficient. and the threats that come from the other side, whoa, we're going to make you democrats, we're going to make you suffer, man, if you do this, it's going to be terrible. what more could they do to us, mr. president? now, he said, it's pretty simple here, the math isn't that difficult. get a bill on the calendar, file cloture on a tuesday, have a cloture vote on thursday, you're finally on the bill. but they get 30 hours for that. 30 hours. so you're -- maybe i exaggerated a day or two but it puts us way into next week before you even get on the bill. so, mr. president, we're doing what is right for the country
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because the american people has -- they want us to do what's right for the country and to do what's right for the country is to change these rules in the senate a little bit so that we senate a little bit so that we
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[applause] >> thank you very much. thank you, and thank you, david, for that gracious introduction and all of you for a very, very warm welcome. this is my first visit to rice, and i'm already glad i came. the president told you i can't talk about anything current, future, or past. [laughter] so my remarks will be brief. [laughter] i've had the pleasure of knowing david for 35 years. as he mentioned, he was the president back then too of the harvard law review. he's used to holing the reigns of power. a chief justice holds the reigns of power, but they have to hold them lightly lest he discover they are not attached to anything. [laughter] perhaps the faculty feels the
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same way about a university president. [laughter] nevertheless, i know from long and personal experience that david brings to rice a special vision, talent, and leadership. this school is fortunate to have him at the helm, and i know he feels blessed to be there. i'm especially pleased that david invited me to visit rice as part of the centennial celebration of the university's founding. i extend my sincere congratulations to the trustees, faculty, students, and alumni on your first great century. the founding of a new university is always an historic occasion, but the founding ceremony for rice was truly extraordinary. i went back to read the newspaper accounts from october 1912 that reported the events. the papers reported that the distinguished first president of rice, edgar lovitt, invited 150
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renowned scholars from around the world to attend the three day celebration. the scholars dawned full academic robs, marched to the companiment of a band. the president, himself, prepared and orally delivered an epic essay on his vision for the new constitution. that essay fills some 85 pages in print. there's no need to panic. [laughter] or head for the exits. i do not intend to emulate president lovitt in that respect. the newspapers reported that the formal invocation started october 12th which he timed to coincide with the columbus' arrival in the americas. he aimed high in his vision for the new school. the president, though, is not the first speaker. after an opening prayer, a princeton professor, henry van
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dyke, recited a poem "texas,: a democratic ode" that he wrote for the ceremony. this is drawn from an indian legend invokes wild bees, stars, and frontier pioneers. "the dallas morning news" reported the audience listened with the strictist attention with frequent applause. now, the next speaker, the chief justice spoke in prose. his review was nowhere near as good as the poet received. [laughter] in light of that, i thought the best course would be for me to compos a poem for this occasion. [laughter] there's no need to panic or run for the exits i gave up the plan and couldn't think of words that rhymed with lat latin legal
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terms. [laughter] the essay is, in fact, a truly magnificently scholarly work presents thoughtful and prophetic vision of what the rice institution would become. i want to focus on one point made. he observedded the great challenge in creating any constitution is, quote, "to plan at one in the same time for the immediate future and for the next 100 years." we're now at the century mark, and it's safe to say president lovitt and the six presidents who followed him met his challenge. rice's academic programs ranging from space, science, and nanotechnology to the baker institute for public policy are marked by both relevance and durability. look at the graduates. scholars, astronauts, attorney general, best selling author. the diversity is truly amazing. now, rice excelled in ways,
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though, that lovitt could not have guessed. i'm talking, of course, of rice's famous come from behind victory over heavily favored colorado in the 1938 cotton bowl. [laughter] [applause] it is famous in the halls of the supreme court, and until then, unbeaten colorado was led by buy ron white. despite a defensive performance from white, he threw a touchdown pass, scored on an interception, and kicked two extra points. they prevailed by a final score of 28-14. not even president lovitt could foreseen that. when president lovitt spoke a hundred years ago, the newspapers in this state and around the nation took due note that something big was happening in texas. the "new york times" reported that president lovitt attracted
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an array of learning such as has seldom been asemibled in the united states. the news laughed mystically observing the speech coincided with the early evening appearance of both jupiter and venus suggesting that the evening sky was a bright future for the institute. not every newspaper was as perceptive or transcendent. one local journal reported the founding of wright in the same column that the news that the largest circus elephant was coming to town. [laughter] we now know a hundred years later those who bet on the future greatness of rice bet right. i'm going to keep remarks a great deal shorter than president lovitt so i'd like to just close with a personal word of congratulations to the president on having the privilege to serve at rice during its centennial, and i'm
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delighted to have the opportunity to call him president once again. now, any of you who have been to the supreme court know the justices on that court are used to asking lawyers a lot of questions. today, we're going to turn the tables a little bit, and we're going to have a lawyer ask me a lot of questions. thanks very much. [applause] >> we have a lot of students here today, and among the students, of course, are quite a number thinking of going to law school. yet, what they've been reading about is both a decline in reputation of law schools, maybe even a decline in the reputation of lawyers, although, that's hard to imagine. [laughter]
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questions about job prospects after law school, and i thought we would take the opportunity to hear your thoughts and reflections and hear your advice for students and others thinking about going to law school, what a career in law should be or how they should think about the future of law and what the opportunities are. >> well, it's an obvious answer, but one that a lot of people don't think. the first thing you have to do is ask yourself why you want to go to law school. i think there are a lot of people who go to law school because they are not good at math, and they can't think of anything else to do. [laughter] and they often turn out to be very disappointed lawyers. i suppose the better way to put the question is not so much why you want to go to law school, but why do you want to be a lawyer. you ought to do serious soul searching about that because it's a difficult profession, but, particularly, these days.
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if you want to go to serve your community, perhaps as a prosecutor, for example, that's a good reason. there's something very gratifying about being able to stand up in court and say that you speak for your country. same is true on the other side. maybe you feel motivated to represent the rights of those people who are accused. that's another good reason. you know, when they announce a case in court, the bailiff says this is so and so, people versus smith. the district attorney stands up and says, i'm so and so, i speak for the people. i have a friend who is a criminal defense lawyer, and when the prosecutor does that, and its his turn, he stands up and says i'm so and so, and i also speak for the people, just one at a time. [laughter] perhaps you want to go to law school because you have a particular policy area you're interested in. you want to do what you can to
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promote environmental protection, and you think working through the law is the best way to do that, but you have to have a reason. there's better things to do if you can't think of something to do other than embark on a particular career path. >> thank you. i want to now turn to the court for a moment, and a little bit on public perceptions. the only -- we read about the court, and we read about the decisions on the court, but the common description is, conservatives on the court, liberals on the court, seems to be that cat -- category is the media perception. is there a different way you want people to think about the court and the justices on the court and those categories? >> well, sure. i don't think it's a very accurate way to view the court. it's importing from the political branches categories that don't quite make sense in the notary --
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non-political branch. you can't identify a liberal or conservative view. we have a difficult bankruptcy tact case. you can't say you're a liberal to allow the deduction by the state, but a conservative if you want the debtor -- i mean, it doesn't make sense. most of our work concerns cases like that, but even on ones that are little more accessible to the public generally, it's hard to pick the categories. we had a case last term which involved a question of whether or not certain discrimination laws should be applied to religious institutions, but you could challenge the hiring or firing of a minister, for example, on the grounds it was discriminatory. now, what's the liberal position? that? the view to extend the discrimination law or protect the view of religion to the greatest extent possible? we look at the cases and resolve them according to our best view of the law, not in terms of a
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particular liberal or conservative political agenda. now, there are ways of characterizing us that make a little bit more sense in terms was work we do. some of my colleagues refer to it here fairly strictly to the text of the statute. others of my colleagues like to look more expansively to the legislative history, the background of the statute or its purpose, and it makes sense to refer to them in those terms. some of us think it's very important what the framers of the constitution were thinking about at the founding when they drafted it. others of us on the court take a more flexible view thinking the interpretation of the constitution should be informed by evolutionary developments. again, those sort of things make sense. it's just easier, i think, for reporters to say that justice is liberal and that justice is conservative, and i don't think it's a helpful way to look at what we do. >> let me switch from there to a
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question about a little more internally in a sense, and i think you've expressed the desire to have a unified court that fell more as a whole rather than just individual justices, desire to have maybe fewer 5-4 decisions and fewer dissents. look at, say, 5-4 decisions since -- i think it's since the war in court, that that is a steady increase of 12 #% to 22% whereas the number of dissents actually remained stable over that time. i think that about 18%. do you think those are good metrics for the court? how would you like to see more cohesion among the court or have you come to a somewhat different view of those things? >> no, i mean, the first thing you need to do is get a good sense of the statistics because i think most of the cases people
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who follow the court in a serious way, the -- you think about are the sharply divided 5-4 cases that get a lot of political attention. most of our cases are unanimous. this past year, i think, it's 44%. that's gone pretty much around that same number. if you take cases that were 7-2, 8-1, or 9-0, that's two-thirds of the cases. in other words, we come to a fairly broad agreement on two-thirds of our cases, and even the 5-4 ones are not always as controversial as you might think. among the 5-had 4* -- 5-4 decisions we had last year is asking when you overstate the basis on a sale of the capital asset thereby reducing the amount of income, is a criminal prosecution subject to that to a three year statute of limitations or a six year statute of limitations.
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that was a knock down, drag out fight. [laughter] leading to a 5-4 decision. sometimes it has nothing to do with political perceptions. i think the broader agreement you can get on the court, the better. the man in the street is just naturally going to say the court was 9-0, that's probably right. the court 5-4 you say, well, there must have. good republicans the other way. to the extent we get to a broader agreement, it's better. the way you get to broader agreement is to have a narrower decision. if you say the basis for decision is going to be a narrow ground, more people can agree on that. if you do it more broadly so that it's going to affect more future cases, then people start saying, well, i can't go quite that far. i'm going to write separately. i happen to think that's ad good thing that our decisions reaches narrowly as possible rather than the justices trying to write broadly to cover all sorts of
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situations they might not have anticipated or thought about carefully enough. i said it earlier, and, frankly, i got a lot of criticism to say it was an adventure to say we wanted to move to more consensus on the court. it's worth working towards. sometimes it's -- it can't be achieved. you know, if one justice thinks that a particular practice violates the fourth amendment, and another justice thinks that it doesn't, they can't meet in the middle. they can't say, well, it kind of violates the fourth amendment. [laughter] there are grounds, and i'm certainly not talking about anybody yielding on a matter of principle, but the effort to reach agreement, which i think you can achieve in more cases by trying harder at it and trying to focus on a narrower ground of decision is a worthwhile objective. >> that kind of leads to another question. the supreme court's a very exclusive club, but it does not
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get to pick its own members, and we have, of course, a con confirmation process. are the things that you've been chief justice of the united states for awhile, you wish were a bigger factor in the selection? different questions that perhaps senators were asked or other qualities maybe they should focus on in the confirmation hearings on that they do not focus on in confirmation hearings? diswroo right. although, i thought the hearings worked out well in the end. [laughter] it's not a very edifying process. i mean, the formula is well established. senators ask questions about current hot topics that they want to lay out a position op. they know the nominee can't properly answer those questions. the nominee then says i can't answer that question. the senator scowls and asks the question again. [laughter] the nominee says, i still can't answer that question. the senator's time runs out.
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another senator does the same thing. [laughter] it is -- it is not useful in any way, and other than to allow the senators to convey their views on a particular issue. that's not what it was intended to do. now, it's presumptuous of me, but i think it would be more useful to ask a question that's one you can answer, along the lines, say, you know, what is your view of the role of the supreme court, a court under the constitution? people have different views, and, you know, i have a view. i think it's right, but other people have different views, and they are wrong, but -- [laughter] no. my -- my point is you can learn a lot about a nominee, not right or wrong. i mean, not that you vote against him if he adopts the wrong view, but about what they will say about the role of the court. tell them, you know, somebody
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from a foreign country who doesn't know anything about our legal system comes and says, realm, what does the supreme -- well, what does the supreme court do? a nominee should be able to give a fairly nuanced, but at the same time, deep answer that reflects an understanding of the importance of the court in the system of separation of powers. that will tell you something about that nominee. it may tell you something that encourages you to vote for him or against him. those sorts of questions. ask a no , ma'am -- nominee, well, what book did you read that made you want to be a lawyer or made you want to be a judge? you learn something if the person sits there with a blank expression. [laughter] you learn something else if they say, you know, "to kill a mocking bird" or "12 angry men" or something else. you can learn about judicial philosophy, perspective on the law by asking questions like that. i think it could be made a more useful process, but i don't hold
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out great hope. >> maybe -- [laughter] i'll turn that back and take one of those questions. was there a book or experience -- [laughter] when you were growing up that made you want to be a lawyer or a judge? >> i saw the movie "12 angry men," and i watched it just awhile ago with my young children. i think it's extraordinarily inspirational telling you a lot about american justice and the values of the liberation, the role of non-lawyers, non-judges, just common people looking at carrying out an obligation they have, a civic obligation, and it's inspirational. i can't say that, you know, from that moment on i wanted to be a lawyer or a judge, but i do remember it, the impact it has on me, and i wanted to make sure my, you know, my children had the same experience so -- and there's hundreds of other things people could talk about.
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that would give an inquiring senator some sense about what they thought about the law. >> and if i can take the other question you suggested, a short answer to it, and forgive me because we had most of the audience here that are not lawyers or judges. >> right. >> how would you articulate, in a short answer, your view of the role of the court under the constitution? >> well, i think the important thing to understand is that there are three branches of government and two of them are political, and if you don't like what the congress is doing, your congressman, you can throw them out of office. if you don't like what the president's doing, you can throw him out of office. if you don't like what i'm doing, it's just too bad. [laughter] and -- now most people would say how can that be? you do -- you know, the cases are pretty important, and you need to understand, well, it's because the framers didn't want the courts to be making
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political decisions. quite the contrary. they wanted them to be able to make decisions that people would not agree with. that's why they have -- we have life tenure and why our compensation can't be diminished. they recognize that they were establishing certain rights, and they recognized they would be unpopular from time to time. you know, flag burning. i mean, that's a horrible i think. i think it's a horrible thing that people burn the flag. i also understand that they have the first amendment right to do so. now, would the supreme court have held that there's a first amendment right to burn the flag if the justices had to stand for election the next fall? i mean, you hope they would have because that's what the first amendment provides, but i certainly think it would be a tougher question. you need to understand that the framers had a different view in mind of what the supreme court
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was going to do than what the other branches were going to do, and it was deliberately set up in a way they would be able to make decisions that people did not agree with. >> thank you. i'm now going to switch to the questions submitted by our audience. i don't know if there's more coming my way. this is from thomas, a ph.d. student at baylor college of medicine. with a constitution more than 200 years old, how do you think the court will address the challenges of interpreting law in our modern, ever-changing technology of science and technology? >> it's a good question, and it's one that comes up all the time, and i think that the important thing to recognize is that, you know, people, when the airplane came along, okay, the framers had nod idea there would be air travel, other than
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jefferson, but he was not around when he was writing the constitution. [laughter] does that mean that the commerce clause doesn't apply to air travel? of course not. the principles of the framers meant to establish in the commerce clause certainly can readily be applied to evolving commerce. the court doesn't get it right. for example, when wiretaps first came up, you know, when the framers wrote about searching, they didn't envision wiretaps, and the first decision was, well, the fourth amendment therefore doesn't apply to this, but it became pretty clear pretty quickly that allowing people to interpret private conversations constituted the same sort of search of material that the framers wanted to protect. you have to find, at least i do, what the fundamental principle underlying constitutional protection is and apply that to new issues and new technology.
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i will say that i think that is going to be the real challenge for the next, i don't know, 50 years, how we do adopt old established rules to new technology, both in the commercial area and how do you use -- what is anti-trust law, how did they come into play when you talk about computer technology with a lot of gateway players involved. what does the fourth amendment mean when you can, through technology, fit rally see through walls with imaging. is that search even though you did not break the close which would have been the issue in medieval england. it is difficult for us because we are not all experts. put the heavy burden on the lawyers to explain the technology to us. >> this question is asked on behalf of the students in attendance, high school and college, which i'll par phrase just a little bit which is, you
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know, after that appointment at managing editor, which led to your rise -- [laughter] , what were the elements in your career for you to end up as chief justice of the united states? how did that -- not everybody gets to be chief justice of the united states. at best, one person in a generation. how exactly did that happen? >> it's probably the same element that led you becoming president of the rice. it's no false modesty. luck, to be perfectly honest, is the biggest element in being chief justice. not just for me, but every chief justice. the great chief justice, john marshall, had a great bit of luck. they wanted john jay, had been governor of new york, was the time of jefferson's asen dense,
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needed a new justice, and he says to john jay, do this again. jay writes back a fascinating letter saying, are you kidding? the supreme court's never going to amount to anything. i'm well out of it. [laughter] john adams secretary of state brings in the letter to him, adams is crest mallen. looks up at the secretary of state, john marshall, and says, i guess i have to nominate you. [laughter] now, i'm not saying he wouldn't have been nominated if somebody else brought in the letter, but it is certainly a possibility. [laughter] morris -- the list goes on and on, morrisson, the most obscure chief justice nominated by grant, the grant administration. corruption was ripe. the first five nominees that grant puts forward all seemed to have been involved in some corrupt activity or another. timely, grant says who was that lawyer that introduced me when i
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was taking the train across ohio? [laughter] they go back and check, and it's morrisson. they said, i like him, let's nominate him. [laughter] he was described as being in the top tier of the third tier of lawyers in ohio. [laughter] frankly, he served well as the chief justice. you have to remember, it's not luck in this example, but chance. i was not originally nominated to be chief justice. i was originally nominated to replace justice o'connor, and very sadly, the chief justice, my predecessor and mentor passed away during that, and they switched my nomination at the end. all of us on the court appreciate the fact that we really have just been struck by lightning, and there's -- it is the most significant -- it's
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better to be lucky than good. [laughter] >> you were right. that's exactly how i ended up at rice. [laughter] [applause] >> this next question actually builds a little bit on your response which is can you tell us something about your experience with -- i guess there was always then justice and later chief justice -- >> yeah, i was very, very fortunate to serve as a law clerk for then justice renquist, a year after law school, you serve with one of the justices for a year. he was a remarkable man. he taught me a lot both professional le and personally. he was kind of a pioneer. he had a very good sense of balance between work and life that was not really that common in his generation.
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i remember him telling me at one point, and he told us in you want to spend time with your young children, you haved to do it when they are young. [laughter] which is a very interesting tern of a phrase, but it was the term of the point saying you can't say as soon as i finish this project, i'll spend time with the kids. as soon as i do this because you wake up and you find out they are 17 years old, and you missed your chance. he didn't do that. he was home at a reasonable hour, even though he was a justice on the supreme court. he taught me about work life too. one particular lesson i remember is he said you know, when you work on these cases, you put everything you have into them, do a good as a job as you can, but then it's done. you have to leave it behind and move on to the next one.
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if you start worrying about, go back, and think about the case, is that right? did i do the right thing? you'll be paralyzed over never able to move on. do the best you can and move on. i like to think he taught me about writing as well. if you go back, the lawyers here, go back, read through the supreme court reports, you can pick out his opinion whether you see who wrote it or not. it's clear, crisp, direct, and i think that's important. he thought opinions ought to be able to be understood by an intelligent layperson. i have to say that's not always true about our work product. i think that's too bad. we all need to do a better job, but he set a very good model in that respect. >> what is your favorite passage of the constitution and why? >> it's the opening phrase to be honest with you. we the people.
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that was something people actually struggled with. i mean, who was setting up this constitution? it was something of a surprise. you would expect at that time for it to be something like the united states, the states in congress assembled, the 13 states, you know, it's we, the people. that's critically important to what followed which was this was going to be a new government formed directly by the people, not a confederation of the states, each with its own different agenda and perspective. that's a tone that i think for the whole enterprise that followed. it was something that john marshall focused on. it was through his decision that the country really became the united states opposed to what conglomeration of different
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states. it started off well. >> what do you think is the biggest misperception the general public has about the court today? >> i think it's a real problem. we touched pop some of these things. people tend to think we're part of the government like everybody else. we have pretty low approval ratings to approve the job that the supreme court is doing. it goes up and down whatever the latest big decision was thought to be right, but we're better than congress or the executive [laughter] i think we're low -- i didn't mean that as -- i think we're low because people's view of government is low, and i think people need to understand, and they don't, that we're different. we're doing something different than the other branches are doing. the other branches are at each other's throatings in a bipartisan way. don't assume that's the way we are because we are not. >> this might be a nice counterpart to the question, not the last question, but the one
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before that. who is your favorite founding father and why? >> well, i think most judges, maybe not, james madison is the person who authored the constitution. i think he did a pretty good job. i had the good fortune a couple years ago to reopen, rededicate his home, montpelier in virginia, and it was fascinating. they had reconstructed his library to the extent that they could. the people taking me around, this is his -- there's a great deal of jealousy among the founders. this is madison's library. he didn't have as many books as jefferson, but he read them. [laughter] i said -- jefferson was not there at the time of the constitution.
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he was off doing other work. he did the declaration of independence, but it's interesting, particular, again, i'm sure this is a perspective. he and john mar shall were cousins, and a strong word, but they hated each other for a lot of reasons going back into the midst of history of their family, but also because marshall, you forget this, but jefferson, it was an important distinction, a lot of the founding fathers were war heros first and fore month. hamilton, john marshall, and you don't think how they came where they were. marshall was with washington in valley forge. he behavedded he rowicly in a number of engagements. he resented the fact that jefferson didn't participate in that enterprise. i've gone off on a detour, but madison because he wrote the constitution is my favorite.
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>> what has pleasantly surprised you the most since joining the supreme court? >> if i can take two things, first, how serious the discussion is in the conference room. ..
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>> a very serious discussion over a very serious issues. as someone said there has never been a voice raised in danger. that is true to this day and it did not surprise me but
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very much impressed me that i did not know about but the collegiality if you read our opinions you may think we're ready to others throats but we are extremely close. it is a unique arrangement. where a group that does the same thing. you may look -- work at a particular organization but we have did decide the same case and go to the same argument. we are together for a long time i hope president obama's appointees they're doing a fabulous job and i remember saying 25 years to justice kagan. she said only 25?
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she is younger. [laughter] you learn to get along and appreciate that you worked together on the common enterprise. so that lovable of discussion with a collegial relationship. >> that will follow up is there anything that has unpleasantly surprised you? >> yes. i will limit it to one. [laughter] unpleasant is the wrong word. as a chief justice i had a fair amount of responsibility. the highest court in the land is a small government agency with a $200 million budget people fall on the front steps you have to get the right computer, movie
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just completed a renovation that involve a lot of the administrative concerns if you have visited the court you may wonder why the front is obscured by a sheet? trunks of marble started to fall off. it is a huge enterprise to restore that you look at the cost them with the money come relations with the architect and all sorts of things like that. i also have responsibility to the court system as a whole a $7 billion at enterprise and disciplinary questions, rules issues if the think they are balladur not the reason i was confirmed it not because i would be a good
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administrator but the unpleasant reality is that comes with the job. i am not very good at it. i don't like it i hope to get better. >> the title is not actually a chief justice of united states supreme court. but to the building itself with the larger capacity do have concerns of the state of the judiciary? >> i am governed by the judicial conference with good chief circuit judges in the district judge we meet several times per year and operate through committees and address of wide range up
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and minister did issues and they held me enormously. there are issues with federal courts it is too expensive for everybody. the medium-size corporation has to think twice even before taking a meritorious case to court because of the expenses involved. maybe it is better to add the cost of the final product. that is unfortunate. many cases are not taken to federal court bush should be we have serious problems with delays we have judges here carrying workloads 10 times more than the national average or more. they need relief for the resources that we need and
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places. there are serious problems to be addressed. >> giveback to technology it is so expensive because you have an issue please give me your e-mails related to the project. the millions of dollars because of new technology with they were written when people did not think about what would this be like? so we do direct a lot of those issues and the courts cannot function the way that they should. >> your prior answer with the surprises mentioning you were the oral advocate people look at u.s. the best borrow advocate of your
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generation. including your colleagues but to now you run the other side of the bench and the advice for your former self that you had not realized at the time? >> i did not become the best supreme court appellate advocate until i became chief justice. [laughter] my jokes got funnier. [laughter] take that with a grain of salt. unsure i could be better if i went to be one now. you do get a different perspective. to see them as adversaries
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almost more as friends because we're not asking questions to triple lawyer but we need to develop a train of thought or give the lawyer chance the way to explain the case or get the answers from him that would explain to my colleague why i think the position is right to and also 00 little more relaxed. athletes will tell you this. with your baseball team if you talk about hitting they will say their 85 things to think about. this stance, the group, the elbow or the shoulder but when you get to in a position you just hit the ball.
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the good advocate would be a need to know hundreds of things but then you have to internalize it to have an intelligent conversation with the court i would put a higher party to not forget what you learned by just focus on the exchange with the justice. >> quarter the main factors the court considers to a case? >> a very good question. of the main factor is it there is dead disagreement with the lower federal courts. here in texas if the federal court says you can deduct a expense and tax returns but in new york face a that you
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can the answer has to be the same. we're the only court to make it the same. matter how picayune bordeaux the question that is the case we take. is not our job to correct errors. we get 9,000 petitions per year we don't look it each one to determine if it is right or wrong but to provide uniformity. where it active congress has been declared unconstitutional we will often take that. congress should hear it from us. not always but it is not the amount of money but schoolchildren come by and
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that is horribly wrong. should you take it? no. the less likely other courts will follow and less need for us to fix it. dealing with constitutionality and backs of congress and uniformity of loss. >> the next question is in two parts the executive and legislative branches are political and public but the support is not a do talk about how would this nonpolitical is the public institution in any respect with televised arguments it is a less transparent
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political institution why do see that as important? >> i disagree. i believe it is the most transparent. it is laid out in an opinion. the other branches don't have to explain what they do. they give speeches but did not have to explain why. they can tell you why they did it to but we have to write an opinion. why do do that? because we're not political. you did not elect me to do anything. volume there to interpret the law so i need to explain this is what it is. here is. that ensures i am not engaged in political
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activity or impose his eighth check if there's a judge justice to be a politician they have to explain what they have done and it looks weak that is a check on the process. we're very transparent and also accountable. >> what do you see is the greatest challenge to the u.s. constitution? >> negative a did ted john earlier i do think it is technology. think about it. dna is the obvious example you could be exonerated. far more often it is used to
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convict prescription is it search and seizure to take eight tweezer full of your skin to see if it matches? very difficult questions. surveillance we had a case with gps the police wanted to follow a drug dealer. with the unmarked car no. at the end of the month they have the complete itinerary he was going to a grudge active been to reduce. new technology somebody can read the question you're asking but it is a good test
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if the framework they said up can be used to do with these challenges. >> with that judicial philosophy the deal with the changes could not have been anticipated? >> the answer is no. i do not have i said this at my hearing i do not have the overarching judicial clause. maybe at the end of my time somebody will say this is his philosophy but i have certain ideas how you should approach a problem.
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i put a lot of weight on what the founding fathers were trying to accomplish. they had a reason to object to the unreasonable search and seizure. is not a categorical two. i approach each case to draw on a precedent as i can. that is the challenge of the constitution is applied. i say that but it might the my age having trouble dealing with technology with the developments we see challenging to members of the court 100 years ago.
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the way they apply notions of liability. maybe that technology is outpacing the rather than the constitution but that is a challenge for me. >> with changes of technology and the law is like raising children. [laughter] >> i had my halifax, nova scotia and 12 year-old children help the program parental controls. [laughter] they assured me it was set up. [laughter] >> one last question. after your time on the court
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how would you like historians to remember your leadership of the court? >> i don't think it is fruitful to think about that. [laughter] but i would like people to think that i was a good judge. if that the end of the time if people say i was the likud judge said is the life will spend. >> 84 the reference to our baseball team making analogies the people remembered but did you like to come back as the umpire we will more than welcome you. i did have a hot but we will
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find it later. thank you for the extraordinary afternoon life is truly honored by your presence. please join me to say the chief justice of the united states. [applause]
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the average cost to educate a child is a $2,000. almost four times the public education costs. and the vast majority of the have public-school. we could take the money that we spend today pay every system 14,000 per child and save billions of dollars per year. with the same or a better outcome.
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>> it says reflect the
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internal debate stand the sold-out that many in our community have been going through as to look at recent interventions like afghanistan and brac. were we the good guys? did we get there right? did we do more harm than good? for us not to look back but look forward with less than learned. to see how of day in for the actions we have the piano of the areas that need no introduction but first the minister of national defence from columbia, senator john
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mccain from the congressional delegation and i have had the honor to interview since he was a congressman in the early '80s. our wonderful host peter mccain. and the publisher and editor of the german weekly. senator, i would like to start with you. the first panel looked at the question of the new normal i could feel you chomping at the bit to but seeing it in such a state of flux we are less willing than ever before to step up to solve the chaos in the world with no pressing national interest. >> as politicians we have to understand what our
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constituents and citizens and what their priorities and concerns are. former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff said the greatest national security threat is our economy. that is absolutely true half of the homes in the state of arizona are worth less than the mortgages they paid the attention is on that aspect of their lives. particular a with the afghan and iraq experiences they are extremely reluctant calling for leadership and with islam extremism poses a threat why chinaan pose
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a threat to to stability of the aged-- asia-pacific region. it is up to us to explain why is we have to do things. there has always been an element with the republican party between the isolationist and those who believe we have a role to play teresa back after world war i with the the divinations. with the taft wing and eisenhower way we see that comeback. >> how much is that concern
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you? >> a great deal. we had a vote from the senator in kentucky with pakistan and libya and egypt we only got 10 votes but now that spread through the far right. so we see that demerged in our party and nation and people say why should we be spending money when we have so much trouble at home? that will rage between now and the next presidential election. >> urination and has spent in allied to the united states falling into afghanistan so considering
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the outcome how could you say you nation's pointed you has changed on the responsibilities to take action in? >> but in considering intervention but the story may economic situation we have come through directly eight influences thought process as a determining factor what a country will contribute and the cutbacks of the british tie at the ship's and getting notices there would not be a jo

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Capital News Today
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